In these latest works, Braden brings new perspective to familiar subjects, revisiting themes of wanderlust, exploration and adventure. Dreamy scenes of sailboat races, southern French beaches, Brazilian explorers and Spanish gardens evoke memories of travel rather than depicting speci c locations. ese fragmented landscapes are meditations on the act of looking as much as they are visualizations of their content.
Drawing on his own travels, his collection of vintage travelogues and snapshots from his friends’ vacations for his subject matter, Braden’s paintings combine patches of color and light to produce scenes that recall both the speci city of personal experience and nostalgia for a time and place. ey are exercises in the ctionalization of memory, images that point to how the surrounding visual culture shapes personal histories and futures. He explains, “for me, that is an opportunity both to inhabit any country in the world and also to take liberties with dates. Anachronistic paintings. I like the idea that these paintings will become confusing objects, they might look like paintings of the 1950s, but they couldn’t possibly be confused with the kind of painting made inthe 1950s.” For Braden, nostalgia for something one has never seen is an act of invention.
is cultivation of nostalgia is also the result of Braden’s interest in the association and atmosphere of particular forms of reproduction—Pathé lms, early Technicolor and color separation in printing. ese modes of looking and seeing also inform his conception of abstraction and representation. Rather than relegating abstraction and representation to opposite ends of a spectrum, he views abstraction as a means of zooming in, functioning as a close-up shot might in lm. is dialogue between the speci c and the abstract is furthered by Braden’s technique of interrogating vignettes from his own earlier work with such intensity that they become abstractions.
In large canvases such as Regatta and Monte Carlo (both 2018), close cropping of each scene suggests a particularly focused viewpoint, one that implies an activity or location without revealing a narrative. While Regatta presents sailboats gathered for a race, it is unclear at which point the viewer is given access to the event as it unfolds or whether they are on land or at sea.Monte Carlo is a lively abstraction centering on a blue and green palm tree-like form. Colorful brushstrokes hint at streets and structures, while the speci c site and subject remain ambiguous. Braden’s vibrant palette and frequent use of negative space imbues his canvases with striking luminosity. ey conjure a longing for luxuriating in summer sun and sand as well as an escapist desire to disappear and leave it all behind.